When I cross train, I like to use the elliptical because I think it best mimics the motion of running without the constant pounding of running. I know swimming or pool running is great too but I don't have access to one. There are tons of different types of ellipticals so maybe whenever I mention I'm doing the elliptical, you have a picture in your head of what machine I'm using but really I'm using a different one. I know I'm always curious what type of elliptical someone is actually using when they say they did the elliptical for their workout. So, first things first, here are the 3 different types of ellipticals I use at my gym:
- Long run on the elliptical would be a steady, consistent speed for 90+ minutes
- Intervals would involve bursts of speed (based on time, not distance)
- Tempo would be increased speed for an extended period of time
- Hills would involve adding a lot of resistance and/or increasing incline
All cardio machines have either a quick start button or a manual option as well as different programs to choose from so depending on my workout, I'll either manually adjust the resistance or choose a program that automatically increases it throughout the workout. Here are some examples of what I've been doing the past couple weeks:
- 2 hr long run on the Life Fitness elliptical: I used the manual program & kept the resistance between 8-12 (out of 25) and the speed between 8.0-8.5
- 60 min tempo on the Life Fitness elliptical: I used the manual program & kept the resistance between 7-10 (out of 25) and the speed between 8.5-10.0
- 30 min hills on the Precor EFX elliptical: I used the hill program where every 1 min the resistance would increase or decrease to simulate a hill; the resistance started at 1 (out of 20) for a warmup and at some points it would go as high as 18
- 45 min intervals on the Precor EFX Elliptical: I used the interval program where every 2 min the resistance would increase then decrease back to where I started (i.e. 2 min on level 6, 2 min on level 12, 2 min on level 6, etc.) and I also increase speed when the resistance increases
Besides the elliptical, I will occasionally take a spinning class (besides the one I teach on Sunday mornings) just because I know I will work my butt off doing it and it's a good combo of speedwork and endurance. I will also do the stationary bike but I get bored very easily with this so I try to limit it. If I do use the stationary bike, I will do intervals with 3 min easy-moderate resistance then crank it to moderate-heavy resistance for 2 min and repeat a bunch of times.
Although sometimes I don't mind cross training because it really does help me recover and gives my legs a bit of break, I'd much rather be outside running everyday!